Snyder: The Crimean Referendum Was An Electoral Farce

Concerns Grow In Ukraine Over Pro Russian Demonstrations In The Crimea Region

What happened on Sunday in Crimea was an electoral farce. Referenda cannot be held under military occupation. Referenda cannot have two options that have essentially the same meaning. Referenda cannot be held when all of the propaganda is generated by the state. Referenda cannot be held when the local television stations are closed and journalists are beaten and intimidated. Even in these conditions, the claim that 75 percent of the population took part and more than 96 percent voted for annexation to Russia is untenable. We know from years of surveys that a majority of Crimeans did not favor incorporation by Russia. One large survey showed 33 percent support for this idea in 2011, down to 23 percent in 2013. The Crimean Tatars boycotted the “referendum,” as did many Ukrainians, since it was declared illegal and unconstitutional by the Ukrainian government. The recorded electoral frequency in the city of Sevastopol was 123 percent.

Yet there were some people on hand to praise the “referendum.” Moscow sent an invitation to parties of the European far right, and found politicians willing to serve as “observers.” Enrique Ravello has belonged to the neo-Nazi CEDADE and now belongs to the extreme-right Plataforma per Catalunya. Luc Michel used to belong to the neo-Nazi Fédération d’action nationaliste et européenne and now supports a blend of fascism and Bolshevism that is also popular among Russia’s Eurasianists. Béla Kovács is a member of the Hungarian extreme-right party Jobbik and the treasurer of the Alliance of European National Movements. That Alliance characterizes Russian intervention in Ukraine as a response to the global neoconservative conspiracy, portrayed as the latest attempt at Jewish world domination.

Timothy Snyder is an American historian and Professor of History at Yale University.

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UkrainianPolicy note: Alexander Verkhovsky has also spoken on the list of far-right observers in Crimea on the web site of the presidential human rights commission.

Anton Shekhovtsov also had this to say on the observers:

“…the Crimean “referendum” has, however, been hailed as “fair” and “legitimate” by a number of European “election monitors” who have been hired by dubious European structures and who have clear links to the extreme right, pro-Russian organisations as well as the extreme left.

The main organisation which invited right-wing and left-wing extremists to monitor the Crimean “referendum” is the Eurasian Observatory For Democracy & Elections (EODE). It is headed by Luc Michel (1958) and Jean-Pierre Vandersmissen (???). Both are followers of the major Belgian collaborationist and neo-Nazi Jean-François Thiriart and members of the extreme right Parti Communautaire National-Européen (PCN-NCP).”

Euromaidan PR has also discusses the presence of the far-right in the observation process.